Monday, May 17, 2010
reflections, memories, cheerfulness
Reflections in the lake at Groombridge Place.
Maria, who comes from Valencia, greets me as warmly as ever at the Sainsbury's delicatessen counter where she is on duty every Sunday. In reply to her enquiries, I tell her that we are being visited by my grandchildren today. "My best memories are with my grandparents, " she says. "My parents had to go to work. I remember the summer with my grandparents. Good times. Good times".
And while she is talking, she is cutting and weighing cheese and dispensing olives.
The Crow picked up my reference the other day to an old acquaintance, who cheerfully remarked when I asked after his health: "I'm still here". What appealed to her, I think, and appeals to me too, is his cheerfulness in the face of frailty and old age. Thinking about her reaction this morning, another recent conversation strikes a sad note in my memory. Towards the end of last year, a neighbour, whom I did not know very well, died at an absurdly young age. Almost the last time I talked to her was when she and I and Heidi sat outside the pub in the Autumn sunshine.. She was a thespian and our conversation turned to Shakespeare. Perhaps not surprisingly in the circumstances, she spoke of her love for Prospero's speech in The Tempest where he reflects on his age and impending retirement from the practice of magic on his enchanted island. . She did not quote it. And I was about to begin: "Be cheerful, sir. Our revels now are ended ..." But as I recalled the concluding words "... and our little life is rounded with a sleep," it seemed to be rather near the knuckle. But cheerful she was, and sometimes I think, perhaps the words spoken out aloud would have been helpful rather than harmful. I shall never know, but do not forget and her brave and cheerful demeanour.